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The Christian leaders of Jerusalem publicly thanked the king of Jordan for his defense of Christianity during the United Nations General Assembly.
King Abdullah II, in a September 20 speech in New York, said that Christianity is under fire in the Israeli capital.
“As custodians of Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian holy sites, we are committed to protecting the historical and legal status quo and to their safety and future,” the king said at the 77th annual UN General Assembly in New York. “And as a Muslim leader, let me say clearly, that we are committed to defending the rights, precious heritage and historic identity of the Christian people of our region.”
In a statement reacting to the speech, the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem expressed their appreciation for what they called a “true and honest description of the Christian reality in the Holy Land, especially in Jerusalem.”
“We also applaud His Majesty’s public commitment to protect our communities’ historical and legal status quo, thus preserving our safety and future,” the patriarchs said. “His Majesty’s spearheading efforts to ring the bells of warning over the deteriorating situation of Christian basic human rights sends a strong message to the world regarding the clear and present dangers surrounding the Christian heritage and presence in Jerusalem and the rest of the Holy Land.”
According to The National, a newspaper published in the United Arab Emirates, Christian leaders in Jerusalem have long complained about efforts by hardline Jewish settler groups to displace them. The newspaper quoted Fr. Koryoun Baghdasaryan, chancellor of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, who said that physical attacks against members of the clergy had risen dramatically in recent years.
King Abdullah asserted that the rights of Churches in Jerusalem are “threatened,” a status that “cannot continue.”
“Christianity is vital to the past and present of our region and the Holy Land,” he told world leaders. “It must remain an integral part of our future.”